“Making Weaponized Interdependence Work: The Case of the Myanmar Sanctions Regime” by Keith A. Preble and Charmain N. Willis
February 9 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am JST
Abstract: With the recent democratic backsliding in Myanmar (Burma), the United States and western countries have threatened to impose or have imposed economic sanctions on the junta. Our paper explores the efficacy of economic sanctions on Burma by examining the sanctions regimes between the 1988 uprising to the end of the military junta in 2012. We seek to understand whether economic sanctions were effective at promoting democratization in Burma while also evaluating how new economic sanctions imposed recently will need to change to support the activists in the country seeking to preserve hard-fought democratic gains. We argue that Myanmar is a sanctions success story, a rarity according to the sanctions literature, because of how complex interdependence can be effectively weaponized not only within the region but also globally. Using a mixed methods approach that combines social network analysis and case studies, we show how Myanmar’s reliance on international trade and development assistance place it in a susceptible position to the chokepoint and panopticon effects of weaponized interdependence. We also postulate whether economic sanctions can support democratic change a second time in Myanmar and how the international community can best implement different types of economic sanctions.